By Amy Roberts
Park City is, perhaps, a bit two- sided. On any given day it can be described as a small, quaint mountain town, where everybody knows everybody and the mayor might be the one helping you change your tire or find your lost dog.
In the next breath, it can be described as a bustling, international events mecca, where politicians, celebrities and famous athletes throw lavish parties and the calendar is so jam- packed with events, it rivals that of any big city.
In fact, there are so many special events in town, the city recently had to hire additional staff just to keep up with the permitting requests.
But in Park City, there are special events (think Sundance Film Festival) and then there are SPECIAL events, as in the annual Visa Freestyle Ski World Cup held each year at Deer Valley Resort. It’s one of the few events locals give an all-caps “SPECIAL” status. Indeed, it’s so special, there’s actually a wait list to be a volunteer!
“It takes over 250 volunteers to pull off this annual competition,” notes Deer Valley Resort’s volunteer manager, Marilyn Stinson. “And every year, we have a wait list. I have several volunteers who make this part of their annual vacation, and many have been volunteering since I started in 1999.”
The army of volunteers does everything from ushering guests and escorting gold-medal athletes to their podiums, to actually building the course for the aerial and mogul freestyle skiers.
“The kickers and jumps the athletes compete on are created by volunteers, and it’s one of the most requested jobs. Volunteers work round-the-clock for weeks before the competition. They make snow, shovel it and pack it into place, to give the athletes the best course possible,” explained Marilyn.
So how do you make working long hours in sub-zero temps while doing manual labor appealing enough that there’s a line of people hoping to be a part of it?
Simple, says Marilyn. “Every single volunteer is part of the Deer Valley family. We genuinely appreciate them just as much as our employees and guests.”
Deer Valley Resort Events Manager Carrie Westberg says putting on this four-day event is truly a year-round endeavor. “We start planning for the next World Cup as soon as the last medal is given out this year,” she noted. “When you think of all the world-class athletes, international media, the 10,000 nightly spectators, food, lodging, and other logistics we have to organize, it’s a huge undertaking. Our goal is to make Deer Valley the best stop on the World Cup circuit, and that takes a lot of planning.”
In addition to the teams of volunteers and employees, the resort hires contract labor to help stage the competition. And much like the volunteers, Carrie says, they always ask to come back. “I’ll have workers out here on Christmas Day, making sure the course is coming together. They’re so dedicated and proud to be part of this event. When you can look up at that hill and say, ‘I was a part of this,’ that’s pretty special.”
Pretty SPECIAL indeed.
This year’s Visa Freestyle Ski World Cup will be held at Deer Valley Resort January 8th-10th. The opening ceremony is January 7th and features a free concert on Main Street to kick off the festivities. Visit www.DeerValley.com for a complete schedule.